Sunday 11 December 2016

Cahill won't discuss dissident claims before by-election

Published 12/11/2015 | 02:30

Mairia Cahill
Mairia Cahill

Seanad candidate Mairia Cahill will not be addressing questions over her short-lived membership of an organisation which opposes the PSNI before the by-election results are announced tomorrow.

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The Labour Party nominee has declined to take part in a number of debates, but is still the odds-on favourite to take the seat vacated by Jimmy Harte.

This week, the sister of the late Robert McCartney, who was allegedly murdered by the Provisional IRA, criticised Ms Cahill for her involvement with the Republican Network for Unity (RNU) in 2010.

By-election rival Jerry Beades has also hit out at Ms Cahill for not talking about her past.

The Irish Independent has now learned Ms Cahill will not be making any public statements on the controversy before the votes are counted.

"The electorate in this case are sitting TDs and senators so she is concentrating on communicating with each of them," said a Labour Party source. "She has spoken to most at this stage."

Sources also pointed out that some of the claims being made about Ms Cahill are subject to a civil court case in Northern Ireland.

"She is caught been a rock and a hard place and doesn't want to get into a tit for tat," a source said.

Fine Gael members of the Oireachtas are committed to voting for Ms Cahill, meaning that a victory is all but certain.

She faces competition from Mr Beades, Fianna Fáil's Dr Keith Swanick and Sinn Féin councillor Sinéad Burke.

Mr Beades, who is an independent, did not wish to comment last night, but stood over previous statements where he asked why the Labour Party would select a candidate who had a previous "association with dissident Republican groups".

Dr Swanick said he had "no interest in attacking anyone during this campaign".

"My party and I campaigned for the retention and reform of the Seanad because we believe it can play a much more constructive role in public life.

"My focus is not on other candidates and what they do or do not want to talk about, but on the issues I believe the Seanad can be making a positive impact on," he said.

Irish Independent

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